Note: The below statement was originally released in Thai on 31 October in Chiang Mai by a group of university lecturers. On the basis of this
statement, they have been accused of violating the NCPO's prohibition on political gatherings of five or more persons and summoned to report
to the police on 24 November.
A criticism has been made that instruction in educational institutions has created opposition to the government and this is detrimental to Thai society as a whole. As university teachers, we would like to express the following reaction to this criticisam:
First, freedom is of fundamental significance to the production of knowledge. Reasoned, fact-based expression of opinions from different views and ways of thinking will lead to new understanding and will lead people and society to grow in intellect and wisdom. They will be able to solve problems and will possess an increased capacity to face the rapidly changing and complex world. The instruction of the majority of university teachers is therefore not aimed at teaching memorization or adherence to a single ideology or way of thinking without discussion. This is because the lessons of the histories of Thai and other societies clearly indicate that ideological indoctrination or indoctrination in any kind of belief in order to make society accept one given power structure in which some groups benefit may result in the use of violence or even the killing of those in society who refuse this power structure. Therefore, many teachers hold the view that it is greatly important for there to be a range of critical perspectives and views in society so that people will be able to think independently and have sincere respect replete with kindness and compassion for those who hold views different from their own.
Second, individuals in Thai society in the age of globalization possess diverse lives and thoughts. Utilizing power to force individuals to act in an identical fashion, whether it is power from the barrel of a gun or power from unjust laws, will only create a temporary tranquility and will be unable to lead Thai society into a state of true peace. Building consensus on various issues, including legitimacy for the exercise of power, requires a foundation built on debate based on knowledge, reason, and facts, and a democratic atmosphere of equality and freedom.
We, teachers from various educational institutions, share the view that in order to lead Thai society beyond conflict to long-term peace, equality, and fairness, the basic principles that are necessary are as follows: we must build a society that has the ability to be open-minded to different opinions; we must have a process of resolving problems and conflicts that is just and transparent; we must have a system of laws and a judicial process that is neutral and can be audited. A society with these characteristics is one that is a governed in a free and democratic fashion and has a constitution that facilitates the creation of fairness and guarantees for the rights and liberties of the people. It is the explicit duty of educational institutions at every level to build this kind of democratic society. It is not the role of educational institutions to acquiesce to the intimidation of power that will only lead Thai society to sink into a state in which knowledge is eclipsed and we are unable to adapt to the present and future world. With respect and good wishes for Thai society
With respect and good wishes for Thai society
The Network of University Teachers